The GTAA has a very active, dedicated conservation program aimed at the preservation of this special natural resource.
Besides our terrific hatchery program, our association does a lot of restoration and maintenance work on the Pretty River and Silver Creek; two of the finest trout spawning streams in the Georgian Bay region. If we hope to enjoy good fishing in the Bay it is obvious that ideal spawning grounds must be present.
One of the best ways to help provide good habitat is to stabilize river banks that are badly eroding and slumping. Each spring these areas pour huge amounts of sill into the riverbed. The silt settles on the gravel beds used for spawning rendering them useless or covering up the reeds and destroying all the eggs. Black silt, when deposited in eddies, acts like a solar panel when the sunlight hits. During the summer months this can heat the water up to levels that can destroy trout.
The GTAA stream restoration committee has identified areas of concern on the Pretty and Silver. We have spent many hours walking these two rivers with biologists and stream technicians horn the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) and the Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority (NVCA) to determine what areas to restore.
A typical restoration project, if there is such a thing as typical, is to first, use a high hoe to grade the vertical, eroding bank. Then cover the lower bank with erosion resistant fabric and huge boulders. Above this plant grass seed and cover this with a six foot hay mesh. With volunteer help we then cut thousands of willow shoots which were used to pin the fabric to the bank. These shoots will begin to form a dense root system.
Finally plant spruce trees on top of the bank; these trees will eventually shade the riverbed. In two years this entire bank will be vegetated and provide spawning sites instead of ruining them.
Currently completed Projects:
1) Silver Creek – widening of the mouth to all for fish migration. Because of the low water level in the Great Lakes the estuary of the Silver became undefined and shallow, making it nearly impossible for fish to access the stream so during the winter months
2) Pretty River – Weir property sites 2,3, & 4. Stabilizing nearly a kilometer of the Pretty River on the Weir farm just upstream from the Poplar Side Road bridge.
3) Stream Management – We need to continuously manage the streams to keep them clear and clean of log jams and dams. We are working hand in hand with the landowners and they are assisting with our efforts. Many GTAA volunteers and the staff and students from the Vanier High School spent hundreds of hours clearing log jams and beaver dams from the two rivers. These to allow the adult fish access to the headwater gravel beds and to ensure the young smolts have a clear passage back to the bay.
2003 STREAM REHABITATION PROGRAM
Bill Wheatstone is heading up this effort and with the help of volunteers and especially Jim Collis, some major projects are planned for the next few years. Besides our fundraising and donations we have other grants that we have been successful in acquiring. These are the Trillium Grant for $25,000 each of the next three years, the MNR Protection and Enhancement Grant for $10,000, A CFWIP grant for $3,000, a $2126 donation from the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters and possibly a grant from the NVCA “Healthy Waters Program.
Detail of Projects being worked on in 2003:
1. Lower Pretty River – County Road 124 at the Nottawa Bridge to the Popular Side RoadSeven sites. Bank stabilization.
- Approximate cost – $ 25.000
- Project authorized by GTAA Directors, MNR and NVCA. Design work completed and submitted to NVCA. Awaiting permits and work is to begin in August. Funding from Trillium and Protection and Enhancement..
2. Lower Pretty River – Downstream of Popular Side Road. Dave King property
- One site. Bank Stabilization
- Approximate cost $4,000
- Project authorized by GTAA Directors, MNR and NVCA. Design work completed and submitted to NVCA. Awaiting permits. Funding to be CFWIP and club fundraisers.
3) Pretty River Mouth – Deepening river channel into the lake to improve migratory fish access
- Approximate cost $6,000
- This request came from the MNR based on our success at the mouth of the Silver Creek.
4) Silver Creek – Martin property. Awaiting program approval
- One site. Bank stabilization
- Cost undetermined
- Preliminary only. GTAA Director approval in principle.
5) Pretty River and Silver Creek temperature surveys.
- Both rivers with volunteer help.
- Trillium grant $350
- Minimum cost to be thermometers only.
6) Pretty River – Nottawa bridge upstream to 10th line
- Erosion assessment for future projects.
- Approximate cost $2,100
- Trillium funding.
7) Pretty River and Silver Creek stream monitoring. On going monitoring with emphasis on spring and fall surveys to determine problem areas Equipment rental. Blasting, etc. remove Beaver Dams and logjams.
- Approximate cost $3000
- Trillium funding and GTAA fund raising
With Dave Hodgetts getting the ball rolling on these major projects, Bill Wheatstone has been the driving force this year and Jim Collis has been providing some of the professional assistance that is much needed. Bill and his people will be looking for assistance periodically so give Bill a call (444-0669) if you can help in any way, especially with the temperature survey that will be done this August.